10 Midsize Enterprises Reveal Their 2023 IT Spending Priorities

The CIOs or IT directors of 10 midsize enterprises spoke with CRN about their IT spending priorities for the coming year, with cybersecurity at the top of the list for nearly every company.

Top IT Priorities For 2023

At the recently concluded Midsize Enterprise Summit, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company, a lot of the talk was focused on IT priorities.

Mike Cisek, vice president and analyst at Gartner who focuses on the midsize enterprise market, told attendees during his keynote presentation that security is far and away the top technology priority. In a Gartner survey of 251 North American midsize enterprises where business leaders were asked what three areas of IT they planned to spend the largest amount of funding on, cybersecurity and information security came out on top, followed at a considerable distance by CRM solutions, artificial intelligence and machine learning, 5G, and business intelligence and analytics.

The CIOs, CTOs, IT directors and people with similar titles at the conference appeared to have agreed with Gartner. CRN asked 10 executives from midsize enterprises about their spending priorities for 2023, and almost every one replied that security was top of mind when it comes to planning IT budgets for next year. Other common responses included spending on wireless, automation and development.

[Related: Network Solutions Provider’s Walker: Midsize Enterprises ‘More Open To Next-Gen’ Tech]

Even so, each midsize enterprise IT executive had his or her own take on the different priorities. Seeing the executives’ and their companies’ own takes on these spending priorities provides a good starting point for conversations between solution providers and their customers on their plans for 2023.

Here is how these midsize enterprise IT executives look at spending priorities.

Josh Berry, Director, IT Services

Brookdale Community College, Middleton, N.J.

Our spending priorities in 2023 are going to be cybersecurity and wireless. We are doing wireless replacement projects. It’s a $3.5 million project. We have Cisco, not Meraki. .... We have on-premises controllers. We have something like 680 access points. I work at Brookdale Community College. We have the main campus and five remote sites. So we’re upgrading to 6E. The timing is because the equipment is going into end-of-life. The hardware, all the Cisco gear that we have, and the controllers are going end-of-life in the next year and a half. So to replace all those, plus get some nice experience improvements plus 6E, those are all the things you do with a replacement project because you’d do it every 10 years. So

yes, a $3.5 million project. We‘re hoping to have a good chunk of it done by the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30.

On the cybersecurity side, we have a cybersecurity road map. We’ve just started to be able to spend more year over year. And we’ve increased our Microsoft security licenses so far. We have a network detection and response appliance that we bought. We have a Microsoft endpoint on our 3,600 endpoints, plus CrowdStrike in the data center. So it’s continuing that road map and figuring out what other protections we need to put in place to make things better. Because cybersecurity is big.

Glenn Leatherwood, IT Manager

Valmont Industries, an Omaha, Neb.-based steel infrastructure manufacturer

We’ve got some data center relocation in Europe and APAC [Asia-Pacific]. Some ERP consolidation, modernization, cloud governance and manufacturing operations. Our current data center is at end-of-contract, and we need to move. We have to make a decision whether we’re going to capitalize that and just lift-and-shift over laterally into another co-lo[cation], or are we going to go with hybrid cloud management. We’re in the middle of that decision right now.

The main consideration is capital spending versus Opex. It’s a big one. And who would help us run it from a process MSP perspective?

We make large infrastructure steel products, so substations, power transmission, cell towers, street lighting, traffic lighting and irrigation systems. We look for vibration out of tolerance. We look for temperature conditions. There’s all manner of different sensors that we can put on to enable track and trend when we need to do preventive maintenance before failures.

Jim Rutt, CIO, CSO

Dana Foundation, a New York-based philanthropic organization focused on neuroscience

Dana Foundation is an endowment-based foundation that funds grants for neuroscience research and brain awareness. We’re a sister organization of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

For 2023, we are migrating to a new ERP platform, and we’re looking to firm up our information security platform. Those are the top two.

We’re modernizing our ERP platform. It has been application service-hosted for the last 10 years. We’re moving into a pure SaaS offering. It’s just easier from an overhead perspective, management, security and so forth.

We’re also formalizing or codifying our information security program. It’s been ad hoc up until now, so we’re going to be formalizing it along some major frameworks.

Bill Floyd, CTO, CISO

Futu, a Hong Kong-based global online broker and dealer

Our top IT spending priorities next year are going to be around security, data analytics and AI and machine learning, and cloud transformation.

On the security side, our focus will be on network and cloud security, including implementing new policy and governance procedures. For machine learning and AI, we’re exploring different options. This year, we implemented a full data warehouse and analytics platform. Now we want to take it to the next level and start looking at machine learning workloads. So we’re looking at SageMaker and that whole platform, Databricks, Snowflake, what are the different options. Our goal is more automation and better decisions with workflow and process automation.

Dan Marks, Director, IT

The Action Center, a Lakewood, Colo.-based provider of job, housing and other resources to the needy

Our primary focus for 2023 is mostly around cybersecurity insurance upgrades and things like that. We need to be compliant for insurance purposes. We’re increasing spending over 2022. We’re also investing a little bit more in development. We are doing some more development on some more applications, both on our development side and then also bringing our software all together for different parts of our organization.

Kim Scharf, SVP, Information Technology

Site Centers, a Beachwood, Ohio owner and manager of open-air shopping centers

Our spending priorities are cybersecurity and process automation through integration. From a process automation perspective, for the first time we are focusing on the more intricate accounting features and functions in our company. We’re publicly traded. So we needed to actually get a bunch of other stuff automated before they trusted that we could automate our financial systems and reporting from a financial reporting perspective to the SEC. And then from an integration perspective, we’re trying to integrate a portion of our financial systems with a third-party cloud solution. That’s very difficult. It’s why I‘m here.

On the cybersecurity side, we’re looking at vulnerability management and network segmentation.

Amy Cheney, CIO

City of Bloomington, Minn.

Our big focus right now is we are investing in infrastructure because we’re a little behind on our fiber optic network. And then security is always top of mind. It’s really just about staying in step and making sure that we don’t fall behind and that we are purchasing what we need to purchase and implementing what we need to implement. And in addition to the fiber optics, there’s some other on-premises equipment that we’ll be replacing as well. On the security side, right now we’re really just doing an assessment.

Tim Ringrose, VP, Information Technology

Ash Brokerage, a Fort Wayne, Ind.-based provider of insurance products to financial professionals

Our priority is to spend less. One of the things that we are looking at is the consolidation of contracts or partners. And we’ve got a couple of contracts that will be coming to their end this year and next year. We have a Cisco EA [Enterprise Agreement] that has maybe six different security products on it. I think there’s going be a huge opportunity to look at different partners or do different things to reduce cost.

This just happens to be the year for some contracts to come up, to some extent. But the other part of it is, my job is to look for opportunities as opportunities come up. That happens to be coming up this year. For the past couple of years with COVID, we took a look at a lot of our agreements and negotiated things down or revisited things where we didn’t have long-term contracts in place. And we looked for opportunities to sign a three-year deal to try and get additional discounts or reduce costs.

Our goal for consolidation is to reduce the complexity with the number of vendors. So if we’ve got Dell PCs and HP PCs and different vendors or whatever, how can we pick one and then have a larger spend with one that we can use to get deeper discounts or have more buying power?

Nick Alexander, VP, Information Technology

Cumming, a Seattle-based construction management consultant

Our spending priority? It’s customer applications and product development around the cloud. To be more specific, leveraging data, call it big data, data warehouse. As far as our company being competitive and differentiating itself, that’s everything.

Another big priority for us next year is security certifications. SOC, ISO, CMMC because a lot of our clients are starting to require it or ask about it. In the past, customers would ask, ‘Do you have these?’ And now they’re saying, ‘When you plan to have these by?’ That’s the biggest difference right there.

Adam Warren, Director, Information Technology

Jerome’s Furniture, a San Diego-based furniture retailer

We hit on a lot of our spending priorities this year. Going forward, obviously a lot of security stuff. Every year, it’s going to be security. It just keeps changing. So the stuff we bought a year ago is changing. So security is probably our No. 1 priority.

We’re refreshing our all our wireless next year. The system we have now is getting pretty old, so it’s just time. It was supposed to be replaced before COVID. Our business was shut down for two months because of COVID. We were basically out of business for two months. So everything got reprioritized because of that.

Everything got backtracked, so we’re piecing the most important things first. Each piece gets its turn. There’s a wireless refresh. We have a lot of locations.